Moree-born fashion designer Colleen Tighe Johnson a finalist in the 2018 NSW Creative Achievement Awards

Aboriginal fashion designer Colleen Tighe Johnson is a step closer to achieving her dreams of launching her very first clothing line.

The Moree-born, Tamworth-based designer recently returned from a life-changing trip to Cannes, where she dressed the stars at the 71st Cannes Film Festival and, to top it off, she has just found out she has been named a finalist in the 2018 NSW Creative Achievement Awards.

Ms Tighe Johnson is one of only three finalists up for the NSW Emerging Creative Talent Award, which involves a $15,000 prize for originality, innovation and raising the global profile of NSW creative industries.

“I was a bit surprised, I wasn’t expecting that,” she said of being named a finalist.

“I knew I was nominated before I went to Cannes but it was in the back of my mind.”


Ms Tighe Johnson is being flown to Sydney for the awards which will be held at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Tuesday, June 12, coinciding with Vivid Sydney – the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas.

The awards showcase the incredible strength and diversity of creative individuals and organisations in NSW and Ms Tighe Johnson said it’s a huge achievement for her to even be nominated.

“This just gives me recognition, it also gives me an opportunity to take my business to another level,” she said.

Ms Tighe Johnson is hoping to launch her first clothing line by Christmas and said if she wins this prize, it will go a long way in helping her get there.

“It would be a really good kickstart,” she said.

Since I started, I always knew where I wanted to go, it’s just a matter of taking steps to get there.

Colleen Tighe Johnson, Buluuy Mirrii designs

“I’m super excited because this is where I was heading and what I want to be able to achieve – to create pathways not only as an Aboriginal woman but as a business woman. Creating those pathways with fashion and design.

“It’d be a great opportunity to win but even the exposure is really good.”

The news of being named a finalist in these awards is just the icing on the cake for the Gomeroi woman, who had the most amazing experience showcasing her Buluuy Mirrii designs at the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival in May.

Ms Tighe Johnson had the opportunity to showcase her collection during five days of showrooms, during which celebrities would come through and select a gown to wear on the red carpet, as well as for photoshoots.

“It was hectic, it was gruelling work,” she said.

“I can do a runway standing on my head compared to five days of doing a showroom.

“The constant communication and selling your products and selling yourself.

“But everyone was just amazed that I’ve come all the way from Australia.”

Two actresses selected Buluuy Mirrii designs for photoshoots, while French television presenter Alicia Falls chose one of Ms Tighe Johnson’s designs, of 18 designers, to wear to the opening night of the festival. 

“She was the first one come through the showroom and I was the first designer she picked,” Ms Tighe Johnson said.

“It’s always been my dream to dress the stars.”

Ms Tighe Johnson plans to go back to Cannes for next year’s festival, but before that she will also be heading back to participate in New York Fashion Week in September, where she plans to launch some of the designs from her upcoming line.

“That gives me an opportunity to show off my new line coming through,” she said.

Her next project is the inaugural ‘Making History’ First Nations fashion parade in Sydney as part of 2018 NAIDOC Week, which celebrates the essential role that women have played - and continue to play - as active and significant role models with this year’s theme ‘Because of her, we can’.

Despite all her international and national success, Ms Tighe Johnson said it’s still so surreal to be where she’s at in her career.

“I’m just excited that everything’s coming together,” she said.

“Since I started, I always knew where I wanted to go, it’s just a matter of taking steps to get there.

“I probably set a goal about eight years ago and I’m going to reach that goal before the time I set.

“I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Ms Tighe Johnson’s fashion line will eventually be available online at, as well as in selected boutique stores.